How to Measure for Kitchen Backsplash

Installing a kitchen backsplash can transform the look and feel of your cooking space. However, achieving the perfect backsplash requires careful planning and accurate measurements. With some simple preparation, you can measure your kitchen and select the ideal backsplash design and dimensions.

Determine Your Goals and Needs

Before measuring, think about your reasons for adding a backsplash. Common goals include:

  • Protecting the walls from splatters and spills
  • Adding visual interest and appeal
  • Coordinating with the countertops and cabinetry
  • Creating a focal point or accent area
  • Increasing the functionality of the space

Also, consider your needs in terms of materials, colors, patterns, and overall style. Measurements will depend partly on the type of backsplash you select. For example, a subway tile backsplash may require different measurements than a stainless steel or glass mosaic design.

Prepare the Kitchen

Clear the counters and walls where you plan to install the backsplash. Remove any items on the counters, appliances, art on the walls, and anything else obstructing access. This gives you the most accurate measurements.

Gather your tools:

  • Tape measure
  • Tiled square for angles and corners
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Laser level (optional)
  • Camera to take pictures

Use painter’s tape to mark off the area where the backsplash will go. This keeps the measurements organized and helps visualize the finished look.

Measure the Perimeter

Start by measuring the overall perimeter where the backsplash will be installed.

Floor to Ceiling

Measure from the countertop to the ceiling. This tells you the maximum height for the backsplash installation. Standard backsplash height is 4 inches, but you can opt for a full height backsplash extending to the ceiling.

Measure in multiple spots and use the shortest measurement. Make sure to account for any imperfections or unevenness on the ceiling.

Wall to Wall

Measure across the entire backsplash area from one end to the other. Include inside corners and any spaces between appliances.

Use an extending tape measure or tiled square for accuracy in corners. Record the widest point and narrowest point.

Outlets and Obstacles

Note the locations of any outlets, switches, windows, or other obstacles in the backsplash area. Measure the distance from the countertop to the bottom and top of the outlets.

Make sure you have the required clearance for any appliances like stoves and refrigerators.

Determine the Optimal Height

While 4 inches is standard, you can customize the backsplash height to fit your space. Considerations include:

Faucet and Window Height

Measure from the counter to the bottom of the faucet and any windows. The backsplash should extend above these heights.


For a stove backsplash, measure the height of the burners and oven top. The backsplash should be 6 inches above these.

Existing Backsplash

If replacing a backsplash, measure the old backsplash height for continuity. Adjust if needed.

Visual Appeal

A full height backsplash can create a bold visual impact. Make sure to measure outlet locations.

Aim for the largest height possible for your design. Mark the target height with painter’s tape.

Calculate the Square Footage

To determine the tile quantity needed, calculate the overall square footage of the backsplash area:

  1. Multiply the backsplash length times the target height for each wall section. This gives you the square footage per section.
  2. Add together the square footage of each section to get the total.
  3. For inside corners and irregular shapes, break the area into smaller squares to calculate.
  4. Add at least 10% extra to account for tile cuts and patterns.

Use an online tile calculator for a second estimate. Input your measurements to determine tile needs.

Create a Detailed Sketch

Draw a sketch of the backsplash area showing all measurements and details. Include:

  • Perimeter and area dimensions
  • Target height markings
  • Applicance locations
  • Outlets and switches
  • Windows, lighting, and other features
  • Cabinet and countertop details

Having an accurate drawing is crucial for purchasing tiles and planning the layout. It helps identify potential issues ahead of time.

Double Check Your Work

Carefully review all measurements and sketches before finalizing. Common tips include:

  • Take photos of the area from multiple angles for reference
  • Have someone else review measurements for accuracy
  • Measure multiple times over separate days
  • Use a stud finder to mark stud locations
  • Compare old backsplash or wall sizes if applicable

Carefully checking work prevents tile ordering errors and installation issues.

Order Your Tiles and Materials

With detailed measurements and sketches in hand, you can now confidently order your backsplash tiles and accessories:

  • Purchase 10-15% extra tiles for cuts and patterns
  • Order grout, mastic, trim pieces, and sealant
  • Rent tools and equipment for installation
  • Coordinate delivery dates and installation schedule

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I measure for non-rectangular backsplashes?

Break the area into smaller rectangles and triangles to calculate. Use a tiled square tool for angles. Add all sections together to get the total area.

What if my walls are uneven?

Use the shortest measurement when calculating. Shim any low spots during installation to compensate.

Should I measure old backsplash or drywall?

It’s best to measure directly on the wall surface where tiles will be applied. This accounts for any existing unevenness.

How do I incorporate outlets into my backsplash?

Carefully measure outlet height and location. Consider height-adjustable outlets to align with tiles.

What if my backsplash has multiple sections?

Measure each section individually following the perimeter and area steps. Mark each section on your sketches.

How do I account for inside and outside corners?

Use an extending tape measure or tiled square to accurately measure corner angles. Note if tiles require special cuts.

Should I measure before or after removing old backsplash?

It’s best to measure before removing the old backsplash for comparison. Then re-measure once the old tiles are removed.

What tools do I need for accurate measurements?

Quality tape measure, tiled square, laser level, stud finder, ladder/step stool, pencil, and camera are essential for precise measurements.

Where should I start measuring in the kitchen?

Start by marking the overall perimeter following the countertops. Then fill in height, appliances, outlets, and other details.

How do I calculate the amount of tile needed?

Multiply the height by the length for each section to get area in square feet. Add sections together and multiply by 1.1 for 10% extra.

Key Takeaways

  • Carefully measure from wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and around all obstacles
  • Determine the ideal height based on aesthetics, function, and existing features
  • Calculate total square footage for tile purchasing
  • Create detailed sketches showing all dimensions and elements
  • Double check work and take photos for reference
  • Order 10-15% extra tiles to account for irregular shapes and patterns
  • Precise measurements ensure a beautiful, functional backsplash installation

With accurate planning and measurements, installing the backsplash of your dreams is totally achievable. Use these steps to get ready for backsplash success. The end result will be a stunning focal point bringing together your entire kitchen design.